New Oil Model Predicts Peak Between Now and 2018

Global oil production is expected to peak sometime within the next 11 years and then begin to decline, spelling big problems for an oil dependant economy. The findings themselves aren't new, but are based on a controversial new way of modeling developed by physicist Fredrik Robelius, a petroleum engineer at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Instead of using a top-down approach to peak oil as models have used in the past, the new model uses bottom-up. It's based on analyses of the over 300 giant oil fields being used today, which provide about 60 percent of current production.

I won't go into all the details, but Robelius took into account estimates of output from new oil field developments, saying they would likely fail to offset decline as the chances of finding a new giant oil field are slim. Other physicists agree, saying oil geologists have already spent a lot of time searching for new fields. Not to mention that if they found another big field, it would only put off the peak by about a year.

Not all agree

Of course, others say undiscovered smaller fields could put off the oil peak much longer and new technologies could allow further extraction in seemingly dormant fields, although as Robelius points out this all depends on the new technologies being developed.

Some say we're already at peak

Both of those views are too optimistic for some people, who think we've already hit the 50 percent mark in world oil reserves and there's nowhere left to go but down. They've outlined a pretty depressing future in which a shortfall in oil supplies of as little as 10 percent could mean a shattered economy and widespread poverty.

It's hard not to feel overwhelmed in the face of such information, and it's hard to know who's right. But it's also good to know there are things individuals can do to lower their personal use. The car is a great first place to start. Choosing to drive one of the top-rated green vehicles and leaving your car in the driveway as much as possible is just one thing that'll give you more control in the face of uncertainty.

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